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Guide: How To Apply For The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

A deal from , 11. Mar. 2015 10:00 am

Guide: How To Apply For The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

When travelling abroad, you can be stung by some very expensive charges for minor medical treatment however; this may not need to be the case as a European Scheme may entitle you and your family discounted or free medical treatment within Europe, it is open to all EU members. In this article, we will explore the scheme and how it can benefit you and/or your family whilst travelling abroad, we will look at the application process for a comprehensive outlook of the scheme. 


What is an EHIC?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a scheme, which entitles UK and Irish Citizens excluding the Channel Islands, and Isles of Man to either free or discounted medical treatment in state run hospitals and/or GP surgeries within the European Economic Area (EEA). This constitutes all EU Members plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, it must be noted that some areas are exempt such as the Azores and Madeira. The EHIC application has a validity of five years from the date of issue in the UK and 4 years in Ireland so, you will not need to worry about apply for it every year nevertheless, you must always check your card has not expired before travel.

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Do I need an EHIC?

Are you planning on a trip to Europe? If so, you most certainly will need one, this is a replacement for the old E111 form which has been used in previous year. It is essential to keep this card with you at all times and it is vital you apply or renew, if you have not done so already.

  • Everyone travelling within Europe is required to have their own cards including children, applications for over 16’s can be made in their own name however, if you have children under the ages of 16 you will need to ensure you have filled out the dependency section on your adult applications. This will ensure all members of your family will have their own separate cards. 
  • Make sure that your application has not expired, yes the EHIC has a validity of five years in the UK or four year in Ireland but countless numbers of individuals forget to renew their cards and this will automatically mean you will not be eligible to the benefits, you can make renewal applications up to 6 months before travel. 
  • Always carry your EHIC card with you whilst travelling abroad as hospitals can reject treatment without the card and the last thing you want in an emergency is to have forgotten your card in the hotel. 

Does EHIC mean free medical cover?

The short answer to this is No, this is because the sole purpose of this scheme is to ensure you are eligible to the same treatment local residents are entitled to, this is particularly useful in emergency situation as you can be hit by some astronomical charges for basic treatments such as bumps and grazes. So if the country you are visiting has free medical treatment for residents you will also be entitled to this however, if there is a charges for using certain facilities you will also have to pay for this.

Important Note: Be careful of what you sign when receiving treatment especially if you do not understand what you are signing, it has been reported that some hospitals have been refusing "public treatment" for EHIC holders, this is totally wrong and is in breach of European Law. In an emergency situation you might be forced to take "private treatment" if you are in such a situation, we highly recommend that you take as much details and information of the situation as possible to build a case. You should always report this to the British Embassy as soon as possible either whilst abroad or in the UK furthermore, you should report it to SOLVIT (European Commission) who can investigate if you have a case under EU Regulation. 

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Never make the mistake of confusing the EHIC as a substitute for travel insurance, it has been widely reported on various outlets that many holidaymakers are confusing the two things. Travel insurance is a comprehensive level of cover that covers various aspects of a holiday or travel whereas the EHIC is something that is essential for all travellers but does not cover you comprehensively.

  • The EHIC is not a guarantee to free treatment, its sole purpose is to ensure you are entitle to the same level of treatment to that of local residents, as all countries have varying policies on healthcare you will need to consider this.
  • In the UK if you are involved in an emergency the NHS will pick up the bill of any treatment required do not assume this is the case in all other countries as, the EHIC does not govern local regulations.
  • It does not provide private medical cover, for example it will not cover mountain rescue, nor emergency travel back to the UK for treatment. 
  • Travel insurance covers a wide array of other situations for instance the EHIC is not going to cover non-medical related areas, such as theft and loss of baggage, curtailment, repatriation, delays or cancellations.
  • Applying for an EHIC can also reduce the cost of travel insurance excess as many insurance companies favour the the scheme resulting in lower excess rates for single and multi-trip policies. 

How To Apply

There are three ways to complete or renew your EHIC application, the most convenient being online however, you call their automated service on 0300 3301350 or make a paper application which you can post directly to them. A sample form can be found below, to download a PDF copy of this form please click here which will allow you to print of a copy which you can fill in and send to: NHS Business Services Authority, European Health Insurance Card, EHIC applications, Bridge House, 152 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 6SN.  

If you are an Irish citizen you can complete your EHIC application form  online, if you are completing a paper form please click here and send your completed application form to your HSE Local Health Office which can be found here.

A very good website for more information on EHIC and the application process is NHS Choices or HSE Ireland, a handy app which gives you country by country information is the European Commission App, the best bit it is once downloaded you will not need to use data to access the information which has been loaded to your mobile device. It is available on AndroidiOS and Windows platforms, it is completely free to use and download. 

Important Note: Never make EHIC applications through third party sites, they charge for a service which is entirely free, by doing a simple Google search there are a lot of fake site claiming to process EHIC applications on your behalf and also offering a fast track service for between £20 and £30, there is no such service and should not be used under any circumstances. Always make EHIC applications using the official links which have been provided in this article. 

Lost or Forgotten Your EHIC

If you required emergency medical treatment during your travels, you may be issued with a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to prove your entitlement to the EHIC. This will be sent directly to the place of treatment. To apply, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 00 44 191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday, 8am–5pm). It's a good idea to save this number on your phone Only applicable for UK Citizens, Irish residence will need to refer to contacting your  HSE Local Health Office


EHIC Application Timeframe: 9. Mar. 2015 - 31. Dec. 2015

  1. United Kingdom, Ireland
    European Union, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland
  • EHIC Summary

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    • Benefits
      • Discounted or free medical treatment
      • Free application or renewal process
      • Applies to all UK & Irish Citizens
      • Can lower the cost of single & multi-trip travel insurance  
    • Applicable in 28 different countries (EU + Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland)
    • Validity - 5 years from issue (UK) 4 years from issue (Ireland)
    • How To Apply
      • Online
      • Phone 
      • Post
    • You Must Always
      • Applications must be made per person
      • Check your validity before travel
      • Carry EHIC Card at all times
      • Make applications on official site only
    • EHIC is NOT an alternative to travel insurance, but a supplement

  • Personal Application

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  • Dependacy Section

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  • Declaration

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    Guide: How To Apply For The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Guide: How To Apply For The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)